Skipper Kumar Sangakkara had, perhaps, just one wish coming into his third World Cup --- to prove his mettle as a batsman. The stylish southpaw may have scaled new peaks in cricket but when it came to the showpiece event, his form was found wanting.
The Sri Lankan has, however, put the past behind and is making his intentions clear. Not only has he scored his maiden Cup century --- against New Zealand in Mumbai last week --- he has also emerged as the highest run-getter in the tournament.
HT, in a freewheeling interview, spoke to the skipper about his dismal form in the previous editions and what are his expectations from the team. Excerpts:
Are you happy with the team's performance in the league stage?
There are still a lot of areas to work upon. We are not playing perfect cricket. It's very hard to play perfect games but we have played some very good matches. We are going to work as hard as we can to improve.
Are you happy that you have finally managed to overcome the modest run with the bat in the previous World Cups?
During the 2007 edition, I was pretty happy with the form playing at No 3. In 2003, I was batting from No. 3 to No. 9 positions, so it was hard to be consistent. But I have matured over the years and hopefully can keep things going.
What's the difference between Sanga the batsman in 2007 and in 2011?
It's hard to say. You learn things about yourself and your technique. And, I think, that's the most important thing.
Will the fact that England being involved in so many tight games work against them in the quarterfinal?
They are a strong side. The fact that they are winning close games means they are converting bad games into winning ones. That means they are doing quite well.
England will be playing their first game of the tournament in Sri Lanka. Will that go against them?
It's hard to say. We went to India without playing a game there and did quite well. England would be looking to do the same.